Thursday, 11 December 2014

The second pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull may have attracted a partner. The two have been running after Feral Pigeons on the north shore of the Serpentine for several days.

I haven't seen either of them catch a pigeon or even score a near miss yet, though I did see one eating a pigeon a few weeks ago. This is a fairly difficult hunt for a gull, and they are only beginners. Pigeons are wary and quick off the mark when disturbed, so it is not just a matter of wading into the flock and grabbing one.

The young Grey Wagtail was working its way westward along the edge of the Serpentine, hard to see among the fallen leaves. It flew away before I could get upwind of it to take a picture as it approached, so this is a distant shot.

A Pied Wagtail on the Lido jetty was much less shy. It found a small yellowish worm or grub in the interstices of the rubber matting. This is an adult female, with a grey back and black bib. In both species of wagtail, juveniles lack the bib.

In the thicket near the Henry Moore statue a Long-Tailed Tit swung recklessly round a twig to reach some small edible creature.

There are a lot of Blackbirds in the park. This female was rooting around in the leaves near the bridge.

Most of them are winter migrants, but the number of residents also seems to be increasing from the low of 2011 when there were only 18 breeding territories in the whole of Kensington Gardens. The destruction of their habitat by leaf blowing in the shrubberies has eased off a bit since then, after repeated appeals to the park management, though whether by accident or design I don't know.

A Dunnock came out from under one of the ornamental holly bushes in front of the Orangery and allowed itself to be photographed.

The male Tawny Owl also obliged by coming out on top of his nest tree at 2.30, while there was still enough light for a reasonable picture.

Sad news: one of the eight young Egyptian Geese on the Round Pond has been killed by a dog. I could not bear to take a picture of its poor little body.


  1. Terrible news about the gosling. I am glad that you didn't post a picture. It would have been unbearable. :(

  2. Poor baby... I too am glad that you didn't take the picture :-(

  3. So sorry.
    Did the owner do anything!?
    Do you have a summary of bird species and their status/population in the park?

    1. I'm afraid that many dog owners think that everything their dog does is clever and amusing.

      I count the water birds on the lake once a month and have records going back to 2005 on Excel spreadsheets. When I get to the end of this year, I intend to put them on my private web site and put a permanent link on this blog.

      I don't have records of all birds in the whole park. There were other bird counters who did other areas, and the system worked till 2011 when Roy Sanderson, who was collating them, retired. The work was transferred to the Royal Parks Ecology department and fell into chaos as counters dropped out and were not replaced, and data was irretrievably lost.

  4. Poor gosling, and they were doing so well (still are, the rest of them). Aren't there any park wardens left to at least berate these people who don't control their dogs?
    On a lighter note - except for the pigeons: the gulls are getting a bit Bonny & Clyde, are they? Do you think it's a going to be growing trend, gulls teaching each other?

    1. There is our park policeman Steven Barnes, the official Wildlife Crime Officer, and he does a good job. But he can't be everywhere all the time. And there are an awful lot of people with dogs, and a fair proportion of them are idiots.

      Gulls really do learn from each other. A successful feeding strategy spreads quickly. The most famous example is Herring Gulls stealing ice cream, which I think started in a Dutch seaside resort, where these pictures were taken, but has now spread to Britain and elsewhere.

    2. Glad to hear of another voice against leaf blowers, not so good to hear of another outcome of them. Removing leaves is also bad for amphibians using them as day cover. Jim n.L.

  5. Roy Sanderson wrote a paper about the effect of leaf blowing and the dumping of half-rotted leafmould and sent it to the park management. He also organised the KG Blackbird survey, in which several people including myself counted them over the spring and summer. And I wrote several times to the park people, pointing out that they were wasting money and making more work for themselves (a powerful argument even for bureaucrats). It is like turning round an oil tanker, but much slower. Still don't know whether they are answering to the helm.